An Interview with a Retired Millionaire: Living Better for Less in Retirement
Today, I wanted to share an interview I had with a millionaire who has just retired. I wanted us to see how she thinks, how she lives, what she does. I hope it gives you some perspective about your life, your retirement savings and your relationship to money.
I recently published a new e-book, How to Live Like a Millionaire on a Retirement Budget. In it, I talk about the spiritual aspects of living a wealthy life.
Whilst my book won’t necessarily increase your bottom line – although it might – hopefully it will change your attitude towards the money and lifestyle you do have.
Stephanie C. is not one of the super-rich with many millions. She’s a ‘normal’ woman like you and me, who worked hard and saved her money. She inherited a bit from her parents when they died and lost a hefty chunk in 2008 due to bank fraud and the subsequent collapse of the bank.
She was laid off her job three years ago and so was effectively retired. Even so, she recently passed the million-dollar mark. Technically, she’s a millionaire, but just. Here are some of the things Stephanie shared with me.
“I always thought that once I reached a million dollars in savings, I would be at peace. But you know what? It hasn’t changed a thing. I still worry about the same stuff I’ve worried about for years.
I Still Feel That I Need to Be Careful
“When I was young, ‘a million dollars’ seemed to be a fantasy of wild and crazy proportions. I couldn’t imagine reaching that much. The phrase ‘a million dollars’ still packs an emotional punch, but the reality, not so much. I still feel like I need to be careful, real careful.
“I still complain about the immoral cost of health insurance, health care and medications. I don’t feel that I’m in a zone where I’m untouchable or ‘safe.’ I still worry about running out of money. Sad that a million dollars can’t give you peace of mind.”
I’ve Changed Nothing About My Lifestyle
“My values haven’t changed. If anything, I’ve almost gotten tighter with money rather than looser. I respect money all the more because I know how hard it was to get here, and how easy it was to lose it in 2008.
“I drive a small, but nice, economical car because I really only use it to zip around the city where I live, because the public transport is unreliable.
“Why would I need a luxury car to drive to the gym and the grocery? Maybe if I lived in the U.S. I would buy a small SUV for long distance driving. I would love the idea of driving out west, or to Vermont to see the leaves change, or driving down the coast of Florida.
“I love my little car. I appreciate that it doesn’t call attention to itself or to me. I would feel really unhappy spending a lot of money on a car. That’s just me.
“A car has nothing to do with my ego or representing me. My attitude is: an expensive car can get bumped in a parking lot just as easily as a simple car.
“Fixing expensive things costs ridiculously more than fixing something less expensive. Disproportionately so. For example: I used to own a Cartier watch. I saved up and spent $2000 on it. (It makes me cringe today…) Anyway, it was nice and I enjoyed it. Until the day I took it to get fixed.
“Starting fee out the gate was $400 for a routine maintenance. That did it for me. I sold it. Now, I just love my black Swatch. It’s a finely crafted Swiss watch. It looks sleek and chic, and I can swim in it. It lasts a long time and when it breaks beyond repair, I buy myself another one. No guilt and lots of beauty.
“Not spending money on cars, watches and super expensive clothes leaves me more money to spend on the things I really value: like gifting airplane tickets so my kids can visit me, or the occasional meals out.
“As I’m a good cook, fancy food is best when I make it at home. When I do eat out, it’s in ethnic and less expensive restaurants that are always really delicious.
Travel is my passion and I try to take a few trips a year. Some are to visit friends, and there’s always one ‘big’ trip to Europe. But again, I’m looking for low airfares just like anyone. I hate paying more for something when with a little bit of diligence, I can pay less. Looking for good value leaves money for other experiences.”
I Enjoy Living Beneath My Means
“I tried having a Louis Vuitton handbag… but I felt ostentatious walking around with it. It wasn’t ‘me.’ As a retired person, I don’t need to dress for success anymore, or to imply anything about me. So I gave it to my daughter.
“My style is more Il Bisonte, a quiet Italian brand that is cool and slouchy, yet speaks of quiet good taste and value. That’s me!”
I Still Worry About Money
“I follow the world news, which, of course, affects stock markets everywhere. I read the financial pages and check the Dow and my investments online to see how they’re reacting to world events.
Even though my life horizon is shorter, I take the long view about money. I’ve seen money come and go, I’ve seen it grow and shrink.”
“I think that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become cleverer about spending money and getting more value for it. Instead of wanting more, I want less. That’s a win-win combination for everyone in any financial situation, I think.”
What does living like a millionaire mean to you? What would you do if you had a million dollars? How do you think having a million dollars would change your life? Please share your thoughts and join the conversation below.
Elizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who presently lives in Merida, Mexico. Camp Liza is her personal blog about stylish, soulful and creative living. Her newest e-book, “How to live like a millionaire on a retirement budget” is available on Amazon. Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. She’s currently writing a book about millennials and money, in addition to an anti-memoire.